Australian Schoolboys Soccer

Australian Schoolboys SoccerBirdwood High School student, 17 year old Jake Markham, has been selected to play in the Australian Schoolboys soccer team, touring China, the UK and Ireland in January 2010.

Jake captained the South Australian team at the national ‘School Sports Australia’ Schoolboy’s Soccer championships, held in Perth this year. Despite being injured in the 2nd game against QLD, Jake had already shown enough skill to be selected among the 18 players for the Australian team. He joins 2 other lads from Adelaide to make up the South Australian contingent in the national team. ‘School Sports Australia’ is a federally funded committee who represent all education departments across Australia to promote excellence in school sports. They run national events in 22 different sports for primary and secondary school children, and ten international tours every year.

Jake was born in Sydney, but moved to South Australia in 1996 with his parents, Steve and Rebecca and two brothers, Kyle and Reece. They’ve lived in Birdwood for the past 6 years where Steve and Rebecca run the Blumberg Hotel. The Markham family’s love of soccer began with Steve, who grew up in Birmingham, England, and has been a life-long Aston Villa fan. Steve has played amateur soccer and has coached for the last 12 years. He says at times, they eat, sleep and breathe football (soccer).

Jake started playing soccer when he was 5 years old in Adelaide, but says he has been playing since the day he could walk. He joined the Torrens Valley team when he moved to Birdwood in 2003. All three Markham boys now play for the Adelaide Hills Hawks, based in Woodside, with the youngest, 13 year old Reece, selected to represent South Australia in the SA Country state soccer team.

The Hawks team was created by the Adelaide Hills Junior Soccer Association (AHJSA) in 1989, to provide a development pathway for the more talented AHJSA players and is part of the Football Federation of SA’s Super League for juniors and seniors*. Jake says “the Hawks team is great, the best bunch of guys I’ve ever played with”. He is in his final year at Birdwood High School, studying Arts and Building, with an interest in Architecture.

Soccer is booming in Australia and there’s no argument that it’s a popular sport for both boys and girls, with a solid and steady growth in participation since the popular 2006 World Cup in which Italy beat France. The AHJSA has seen its numbers double in recent years to almost 1500 members. Within the AHJSA there are 13 clubs, each with roughly 150 players per club between the ages of 6 to 16 years, with one third of those being girls. For more information, please visit www.ahjsa.asn.au.

To follow Jake Markham and the Australian Schoolboys progress in January, go to www.schoolsport.edu.au. Please join me in wishing Jake and the team all the very best for their international tour.

* source: “Information and Strategy Paper on … future of Soccer … in the Adelaide Hills …” by Robert Kilpatrick.